December 31, 2011
The Wonders of the East, ca. 1330
Friar Jordanus (ca. 1330) Mirabilia Descripta - The Wonders of the East. Henry Yule, Trans. London: Hakluyt Society, 1863.
This is a marvelous book of fanciful traveler's tales by Friar Jordanus, a Dominican missionary who travelled in Iran and India in the time between the writings of Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta. Yule translated the work into English from a book that published the original latin manuscript in Paris in 1839. In his Preface, Yule informs us that "The manuscript from which the French editor transcribed belonged to the Baron Walckenaer. It is on parchment, of the fourteenth century, and contains other matter, the work of Jordanus occupying twenty-nine quarto pages." (p. iv) An illustrated page from this manuscript can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/7koww8t
This edition is published by the indefatigable Hakluyt Society (http://www.hakluyt.com/), which produced a number of the other travel, exploration and adventure titles at archive.org, and is still going strong today. This book is fine fun.